MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Youth sports programs need to have guidelines to protect young athletes against heat illness, says an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Most healthy children and athletes can safely participate in outdoor sports and activities in a wide range of warm to hot weather, but adults sometimes create situations that are potentially dangerous," Dr. Stephen G. Rice, statement co-author and a former member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, said in an academy news release.

"Heat illness is entirely preventable if coaches and other adults take some precautions to protect the young athletes," Rice said.

The statement recommends that coaches, trainers and other adults involved in youth sports receive heat illness risk-reduction training, and that trained staff are on-site to monitor for and promptly treat heat illness in young athletes.

It also says that children should be educated about staying safe in the heat, must be allowed to gradually adapt to physical activity in the heat, and be offered time and encouragement to drink a sufficient amount of fluids before, during and after exercise.

Other recommendations include:

  • Canceling or rescheduling games or practices if it's too hot.
  • Giving young athletes at least two hours of rest between same-day contests in warm to hot weather.
  • Limiting the participation of children who have had a recent illness or have other risk factors that could reduce their tolerance to physical activity in hot weather.
  • Creating and implementing a heat illness emergency action plan.

The policy statement is published in the Aug. 8 online edition and in the September print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about heat injury and heat exhaustion.